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As each of the group stepped out of the misty doorway hanging open in mid air, they stopped and marvelled at the beauty that surrounded them.
The gardens of Mount Olympus enjoyed eternal springtime and were filled with flowers of every color and variety known to be.
"Right this way. I'm sure you're hungry." Aphrodite said with a bounce as she led them toward an enormous marble temple.
One by one, the group overcame their wonder at the shear beauty that surrounded them and eventually followed.
A booming crash of thunder caused everyone to jump and stop in their tracks.
"I wish you wouldn't do that." Aphrodite said with a petulant look upward.
Movement drew their attention and they watched in silence as a supremely confident and authoritative man walked toward them from the temple they were approaching.
"This is Zeus, the King of the Gods of Olympus." Aphrodite said formally.
"Bow." Billy whispered to his comrades urgently as he demonstrated.
Everyone followed Billy's example except Tara, who gave her best estimation of a curtsey.
"Aphrodite tells me that you are all far from home. Come inside and tell me your story so we can decide what is to be done." Zeus said in a tone that was friendly on the surface, but was nothing short of a command.
* * * * *
The group walked into a huge room with a long and ornate table in the center.
With a waive of her hand, Aphrodite produced a banquet in the center of the table.
All of them looked at the lavish display of foods laid out before them with wonder at the power Aphrodite commanded so casually.
Once they were finally seated, Billy hesitantly said, "Lord Zeus..." then trailed off uncertainly.
Zeus nodded that the title was adequate.
"From the evidence at hand, I have concluded that we come from different dimensions and from a time some two thousand or more years in your future." Billy said carefully, trying to keep it simple.
"I see. And how did you come to be here?" Zeus asked in thought as he looked over the strange collection of young adults and children.
"By way of magic. Willow and Tara worked a spell to get us out of an unfortunate situation which resulted in our relocation to this time and place." Billy said carefully.
"Yes. I also sense that one of you harbors a spirit. Tell me of that." Zeus said as he turned his attention to Xander/Yami.
"Yugi solved the Millennium Puzzle and released my spirit which had been housed within it for five thousand years. I have shared his body for some time now, but when we entered your world, my spirit came to inhabit Xander instead of Yugi... we don't know why." Xander/Yami said in thought.
"The use of Millennium magic suggests that you are Egyptian. Is that correct?" Zeus asked with interest.
"Yes. But I know very little about my past." Xander/Yami said regretfully.
"It seems we have many questions and few answers. I suppose the best way to sort this out would be to summon the god who has dominion over the dimensional pathways." Zeus said to the group, then looked to his left and said, "Janus, I bid thee attend me."
In a gradual glow of power, a mysterious form appeared. The power wasn't the pure joyous light that Aphrodite had displayed. Janus' power was malevolent, malignant, and caused all the visitors to wince in disgust.
This god, Janus, had an aura of menace surrounding him and half his face was hidden by his long, jet black hair.
"Summoned, I come." Janus said in a cold, harsh voice that was difficult to listen to. Although his words were respectful, his tone revealed barely restrained defiance.
"These young ones claim to be from other times and other worlds. Before we begin to sort the other matters, it must be known if the fabric of time in their own worlds has been disturbed by their absence... and if it will be disturbed by their return." Zeus said, seemingly unbothered by Janus' insolent tone.
"As you command." Janus said in a hiss, then turned his attention to those around the table.
Billy seemed to be on the verge of saying something, but before he could, Janus said, "I must search for the answers you seek in the halls of time."
"Go then, and be quick about it. I must consult the fates about their presence." Zeus said with little more than an irritated glance in Janus' direction.
"You needn't bother. These lost ones are no part of the great tapestry. Their presence is a disruption. The longer they remain, the nearer the twilight comes." Janus said in a low hiss.
"Then go an find where they do belong so we can restore things to working order." Zeus said, and seemed to be losing his patience.
Janus gave a slight bow and seemed to be ready to leave, but then he raised one of his arms and his sleeve slid back to reveal a bone thin hand which was pointing at Xander.
"The displaced spirit will need his own body to traverse the vortex back to the proper universe. Such a thing is outside my purview." Janus said in a voice that sounded like nails raking down a blackboard.
"Yes. Yes. I'm not feeble minded. I just wanted to get you on task before I attended to that." Zeus said in a tone that suggested that Janus might have overstepped his bounds.
Janus nodded again, then a putrid swell of power engulfed him, making all those around the table shudder at the sight.
"So much for dinner." Aphrodite said casually as she waived her arm and the banquet before them disappeared.
Though the move was a surprise, none of those around the table could dispute that food was now the furthest thing from their minds.
"Right then... on to other business." Zeus said as he looked around the table again.
His gaze stopped on Xander/Yami, then he absently said, "Hades, my brother. I bid thee attend me."
There was a collective feeling of dread around the table as they realized that they were about to meet the god of the underworld.
Since the relatively unknown god, Janus, had been so disgusting, then it seemed to stand to reason that Hades, master of the Greek underworld, would be even more so.
A wisp of midnight black power flared, then receded. When it was gone, it revealed a fairly common looking man in it's wake.
He was very nearly handsome and regal in his own way.
"How may I be of aid to you, my brother?" Hades asked in an obligatory tone.
"We have a visitor from another time and dimension. Given his circumstance, I thought you could sort him out." Zeus said frankly.
Hades looked around the table, then his gaze fixed on Xander/Yami.
Everyone watched in cautious silence as Hades walked to Xander/Yami, then leaned close to sniff him.
"Egyptian." Hades said, obviously confirming his own suspicion.
"Yes. We surmised as much. Can you restore him to a living, breathing form?" Zeus asked simply.
Hades seemed to consider, then shook his head as he said, "No. He must have his own original body."
Zeus looked at Hades curiously, waiting for more, but when it was not forthcoming, Zeus reluctantly asked, "Does that mean that his body still exists."
Hades nodded, and something in his eyes suggested that he was reluctant to speak all that he knew.
"Who keeps his body then? Is it Isis?" Zeus asked cautiously.
Hades slowly shook his head, 'no'.
"Anubis?" Zeus asked in a guarded tone.
Hades again shook his head, 'no'.
Zeus was obviously casting about for any name other than one.
"Set?" Zeus asked, sounding almost hopeful at the prospect.
Hades shook his head, 'no' again, looking almost regretful.
Zeus finally gave a sigh of resignation and said, "It's Sobek, isn't it."
Hades nodded, and the guests around the table noticed that he seemed to be trying to hide a smile.
Zeus looked upward and called, "You can wipe that smile off your face Moira. It isn't funny."
A faint chuckle echoed through the room.
"Moira is the mother of the fates." Tara whispered to those at the table.
Billy nodded his agreement to her explanation as the others puzzled over who 'the fates' were.
"Ares, God of War, attend me." Zeus called out, drawing all attention back to him.
In a burst of power that was truly awe inspiring, Ares appeared.
His aura nearly crackled with strength and the honor of war.
When his gaze turned toward Zeus, the effect was spoiled as his expression changed from being a brave warrior to that of a petulant child.
"I was busy Father. Orchestrating the war that YOU felt we needed to cull the disruptive influences in the West." Ares said combatively.
"Yes. Yes. You can attend to that later. This is of paramount importance." Zeus said dismissively.
Ares looked around the room, only just noticing the others present.
"This young mortal holds a dislocated spirit. I need you to go to Sobek and ask for his aid in retrieving the spirit's body." Zeus said frankly.
"Can't Uncle Hades just magic one up for him?" Ares asked as he turned to look at his uncle curiously.
"No I can't. For the same reason that I wouldn't be able to 'magic up' a new body for you if the need arose." Hades said frankly.
Ares blinked, then hesitantly asked, "He's a god?"
"Yes and no. If you'll recall, the Egyptians do things a bit differently. The spirit we have here is that of a Pharaoh. If his body were dead, he would ascend to become a full god, yet here he is. Disembodied, and mortal. Someone has found an ingenious way to prevent him from gaining his godhead. The Pharaoh's spirit has been forced from his living body, then the body was preserved in such a way to prevent him from dying." Hades said as he turned his gaze on Xander/Yami.
"Which Pharaoh is he?" Ares asked curiously.
"Unless I miss my guess, I believe that this is the legendary lost Pharaoh, Tutmariahmihn."
* * * * *
Only a short amount of time had passed, and yet it seemed like hours to the group around the table, sitting under the watchful eyes of Zeus.
Some nervous glances had been exchanged around the table, but no one dared to speak a word.
Finally, Zeus turned and looked on with dread at the appearance of the crocodile headed man beside his son.
"Elder god Sobek." Zeus said formally as he stood, then seemed to choke out, "You are welcomed here."
The strange combination of reptile and human let out a hissing growl that drew looks of concern from everyone around the table.
One by one they realized that the strange, wheezy sound was actually Sobek's laughter.
"It appears that you are unaware of my further ascension, King Zeus. I have left all our old arguments and animosity behind." Sobek finally said.
Before Zeus could ask, Ares hurried to say, "Uncle Sobek and the other elder gods recently performed a ceremony that will enable them to survive the twilight."
Zeus tried to hide the cringe at his son calling this foreign god, 'Uncle'. Then what Ares had said registered and he looked at Sobek with interest.
"As was foretold, the twilight of the gods is at hand. The elder gods, our 'Titans' if you will, merged into one perfectly balanced being, the all powerful Amun-Ra. The incarnation of Amun-Ra that stands before you is the divine form of Sobek-Ra."
Zeus considered Sobek-Ra's words and how this information might be useful to the Greek gods in the coming twilight.
Silence fell over the room until it was broken by Aphrodite saying, "So, Daddy Zeus says that you, um, like, have this stud muffin's body hidden somewhere."
"Yes." Sobek-Ra said with an amused look at Aphrodite.
Zeus flashed a disapproving glance at Aphrodite, then said to Sobek-Ra, "These travelers cannot remain here, they do not belong in this place and time. But we cannot send your lost Pharaoh home without his own body."
Sobek-Ra looked at the group appraisingly for a moment, then said, "Since our merging, balance has been achieved, so the ascension of the Pharaoh is no longer a threat to our pantheon. He willingly sacrificed his rightful place amongst us to preserve us all. But all is finally in readiness so I may restore him to his body."
"Very good. Then we can see to the rest." Zeus said with a nod.
"The restoration of the Pharoah will require a willing sacrifice." Sobek-Ra said cautiously.
"I can summon one of my warlords. They would be honored to die for me." Ares said without concern.
"You should know, that if the sacrifice somehow survives the transfer of power, then he will also be imbued with god powers." Sobek-Ra said with calm dignity, speaking so that all in the room could clearly hear his words.
"Then you'd better not use one of those mouth breathing, knuckle dragging warlords of yours." Aphrodite said frankly.
"My warlords are, without exception, power-hungry bastards. That's why they're warlords." Ares said with a nod.
"It would be easy enough to find a priest of mine who wasn't power-hungry, but my priests probably wouldn't do well in the self-sacrifice department." Aphrodite said with apology.
"We can just find a loyal father and promise his family long happy lives if he'll give it up for the cause. Problem solved." Ares said with a smile of accomplishment.
"Then we have him to deal with for all eternity, if he survives." Zeus said frankly.
"We can find some hind's blood or throw him into the pit with the Titans when we're through with him." Ares said with a shrug, then glanced at Joxer and said, "We could let Xena have a crack at him, she's always wanted to kill a god. It might be enough to get her back into my service."
"That seems like such a waste." Aphrodite said with regret.
"Lord Ares. I would like to be the willing sacrifice." Joxer said in a shaky voice.
"You?" Ares asked with a chuckle of derision, then continued, "You're one of Xena's tag-alongs. Why in Zeus' name would you want to do anything to help us?"
"Lord Ares, I tag along with Xena because I believe in being a hero and helping the people who can't help themselves. If I sacrifice myself, then I'm saving a father from having to choose to leave his family. I'm saving a family from losing their father. I may even be saving a newly made god from being killed or imprisoned for eternity." Joxer said as his voice sounded increasingly assured. Ares noticed that Joxer had left out any reference to Xena in his reasons for wanting to sacrifice himself.
"Joxer, think about what you're talking about doing. There's no turning back from this." Willow said in a whisper.
"That's right Joxer. You have a lot to live for. You don't need to do this." Yugi said as his large, soulful eyes began to fill with tears.
"When I was a baby, I was dedicated to Lord Ares. He is my god. If I can be of service to him and he wishes me to do so. I will sacrifice myself." Joxer said, finally sounding completely sure of what he was doing.
Joxer then turned to look at Ares and continued, "He's never needed me for anything before. This could be my only chance to serve my god."
The group around the table looked at Joxer with sad, imploring eyes, knowing that his decision had been made.
"Well, that was easy enough." Ares said with cheer, then noticed the disapproving looks from most of the people in the room.
"The least you could do is to thank Joxy for offering his life." Aphrodite said sternly.
"No Dite. The *least* I could do is what I've already done... now can we get on with it?" Ares asked as he looked around the group, finally settling his gaze on Sobek-Ra.
The crocodile headed god seemed to be amused by the child-like antics of the Greek gods.
When he noticed that all eyes were on him, he gestured for Joxer to stand before him.
"Wait." Xander/Yami said firmly, then continued, "I will not allow another to sacrifice himself so that I may regain my own body."
"Listen up sweet-cheeks. That body you're in right there, it's not going to survive the trip back to your time with you in him. Got it? If Joxy lives, both of you die. If Joxy dies, then both of you live." Aphrodite said with uncharacteristic seriousness.
"Please, Goddess Aprhodite, is there no other way?" Xander/Yami asked desperately.
"Fraid not. I know it sucks, but sometimes things just work out that way." Aphrodite said with a look of regret.
"Come. Stand over here so we can dispense with this. Your presence is damaging the fabric that guides the destiny of Greece." Sobek-Ra said with regal authority.
Xander/Yami slowly stood and walked to stand beside Joxer, trying with all his might not to look at the clumsy, wanna-be warrior.
Sobek-Ra held his hands out, nearly touching Joxer's shoulders, then said, "Millennium power, accept this token, release the body, the seal be broken."
A burst of golden light surrounded Joxer's body. It was so intense, that all the mortals in the room had to turn away.
Even the gods were surprised by the intensity of the power and were forced to avert their eyes.
When the golden light finally faded, the Pharaoh Tutmariahmihn was standing, unmoving, where Joxer had been.
"Did it work?" Yugi asked as he stared at the Pharaoh who looked like a slightly older version of himself.
"Where is Joxer?" Tara asked in a small, timid voice.
The Pharaoh Tutmariahmihn opened his large, lavender eyes and looked at the group, seeming to be dazed.
"Yami?" Yugi asked hesitantly.
"Come Aibou." Tutmariahmihn said softly as he held out his hand, "Time is our enemy."
Yugi cautiously walked to the taller boy and took his hand in a firm grip.
A lavender flash of light surprised all in the room, and when it faded, both the Pharaoh and Yugi were gone.
* * * * *
"King Zeus, I will take my leave and bid thee well." Sobek-Ra said formally.
"Yes. Yes. And please feel free to ask if you ever have need of my assistance." Zeus said regally.
Sobek-Ra looked at Zeus appraisingly for a moment, then said, "Unlikely, but I will remember the gesture."
Before Zeus could make any response to that, Sobek-Ra vanished in a blinding flash of light.
* * * * *
"What about Joxer?" Tara asked again, still sounding quiet and timid.
Before anyone could answer, the Pharaoh appeared with Joxer laying lifeless in his arms and Yugi standing at his side.
"Is he dead?" Billy asked cautiously.
"Yes. But he is not beyond our reach. There is still a chance to save him." the Pharaoh said firmly as he looked at Ares.
"Do it then. Save him." Bobby said quickly.
"When Joxer was dedicated, a bond was formed between him and his god. Only his god has the ability to summon him through that bond and save his life." the Pharaoh said, then looked at Ares expectantly.
"But then he'll be a god." Ares said in a slight whine.
"Joxy will be a good god. If you don't want him, I'd be proud to have him in the house of love." Aphrodite said firmly.
"Sorry Dite, Father won't allow it." Ares said quickly, then looked to his father with imploring eyes and asked, "Will you?"
"The young one sacrificed himself to save the life of a god. A foreign god, but a god, none the less. If you choose to empower him through your bond, I will raise no objection." Zeus said carefully.
"Come on Arry." Aphrodite began to say, then a look of mischief came into her eyes as she continued, "You know how Xena hates the gods. Just think about how much it will piss her off when one of her little tag alongs becomes one."
Ares rolled his eyes, then in a voice of resignation he said, "Okay. I'll do it... But only to piss off Xena."
As everyone watched, Ares walked to the Pharaoh and took Joxer's lifeless body into his arms.
"Father, you'll need to see that the war doesn't move toward Corinth. I'm going to be out of action for a few days." Ares said to his father frankly.
"I'll attend to it. Go on, before it's too late." Zeus said, trying to restrain a smile.
Ares looked down at Joxer's still face for a moment, then flashed out of the room.
* * * * *
"Are you guys ready to eat yet?" Aphrodite asked cheerfully.
Everyone had their attention focused on the Pharaoh and didn't seem to hear her.
After a moment of silence, Aphrodite looked over at Zeus with question.
"Let's leave them be until Janus has finished his work. There is little else for us to do here and I would like to investigate what Sobek mentioned about surviving the twilight." Zeus said quietly.
"Sounds serious." Aphrodite said with a crinkled nose.
"Most serious. But if you will play hostess for our guests, I will attend to that." Zeus said with a small smile.
"Hostess? I can do that!" Aphrodite said happily, then to prove it, she waived her arm and the table was once again filled with food.
* * * * *
Aphrodite threw up her hands as no one seemed to have noticed her grand and very generous gesture.
Finally she looked around the table and said, "You." As she pointed at Willow. "And you." She said as she pointed at Tara.
"Come with me." Aphrodite said firmly.
"I don't..." Willow began to say.
"That wasn't a question. You move or I move you." Aphrodite said sternly.
Willow glanced at Tara with irritation, then reluctantly walked to Aphrodite's side.
Tara shyly got up and slowly walked to Aphrodite's other side.
"You guys go on. It looks like we're in desperate need of some 'girl talk'." Aphrodite said as she led the two girls out of the room.
* * * * *
The group of boys had automatically moved around the Pharaoh, all seeming to be filled with questions, but reluctant to speak.
After a long moment of silence, the Pharaoh quietly said, "Xander."
"Yeah?" Xander responded as he met the Pharaoh's eyes.
"Thank you." the Pharaoh said sincerely.
Xander was about to ask 'what for' when he realized that the Pharaoh was grateful that Xander had accepted his disembodied spirit.
"Yeah. No problem." Xander finally said with a grin.
"Pharaoh. Did you die and become a god?" Billy asked cautiously.
Bobby looked at Billy with surprise, not having thought about how the god powers had been bestowed.
"Please, all of you may call me Yami. I have become accustomed to it." the Pharaoh said quietly, then continued, "And yes. I did die in a way. Joxer provided the taste of death needed to activate my god power. But the body that stands here before you is my own, living body."
"Well, I'm glad that you're alright. I hope Joxer is going to be okay. He's nice." Bobby said hesitantly.
Yami nodded his agreement, but didn't have any words of encouragement to offer.
"Well, since you're a god, maybe you can explain what's going to happen to us." Yugi said as he looked up at Yami hopefully.
"I'm sorry Aibou, my memory is only just beginning to awaken. I know little more than you do." Yami said with regret, then looked around the gathering and said, "Until Janus returns, all we can do is wait."
"And eat." Xander said as he walked back to the table and took a seat.
"How can you think of food at a time like this?" Billy asked with astonishment.
"Because I'm hungry." Xander said as he dragged a large chunk of meat onto his plate.
"Come to think of it, so am I." Bobby said, then walked to the table to also take a seat.
Within a minute, the rest of the group had joined him.
* * * * *
Aphrodite walked back into the hall and smiled when she found that her guests were eating and casually chatting.
Willow and Tara returned to the room more slowly, snuggled together and giggling like schoolgirls.
All the boys around the table looked at Aphrodite with surprise and question at the abrupt change.
Aphrodite gave a self-satisfied smile to the boys, but didn't offer any explanation of what she had done.
Willow and Tara eventually made their way back to the table, but they might as well have been alone in the room, since their attention seemed to be focused only on each other.
* * * * *
A smudge of power drew everyone's attention toward the head of the table.
Before them stood Janus, looking positively malevolent with a self-satisfied grin on his half-hidden face.
"Can you send us home?" Yami asked, seemingly unfazed by Janus' disturbing presence.
"I can. But there are choices that must be made." Janus said seriously.
"Then tell us what they are so things can be decided and we can be on our way." Yami said firmly, not only affirming that he was a god, but also a born Pharaoh. A leader.
"As you like. I'll explain it to you, then let you explain it to your 'mortals'." Janus said with a glance at the others surrounding the table.
None present could tell if the strange god was teasing or actually thought that mortals were exceedingly inferior to the gods.
Yami didn't dignify the words with a response other than to quirk an eyebrow.
"Now and again, errors occur in the great pattern of destiny. When those errors occur, there is a mechanism in place to repair the inadvertent damage to the timeline." Janus said seriously.
"If you had a point to make, you could get to it any time now." Xander said with an irritating smirk.
"Be insolent if you like. Joke and be merry. I've seen your destiny, young one. It's written and sealed. Joke whilst you can." Janus said, seemingly taking delight in what lay ahead of Xander.
"What choices?" Yami asked with irritation, trying to draw Janus back to the point.
"Blue Ranger, know this. Whether you return to your time or not, Jason and Kimberly will get married. It is destined. Jason will NEVER love you the way that you love him." Janus said in a voice of absolute certainty.
Billy froze at the words.
His most secret desire had just been spoken aloud for all to hear.
As everyone watched, Billy finally came back to himself enough to ask, "But if I don't go back, won't it give Rita the advantage? Don't they need me to be there? For the team?"
"No." Janus said frankly, "If you go back, Jason's rejection of you will force you to move to Aquitar to escape the constant reminders of what you have always wanted and could never have. You'll end up in a relationship of convenience with an Aquitian woman and eventually marry her. It will be a loveless marriage and before very long, the only thing that will keep you together is your mutual sense of duty and obligation to the vows that you took. Your death, when it comes, will be welcomed."
"Oh." Billy said distantly, then looked at Janus and asked, "So what happens if I don't go back?"
"The green ranger takes your place on the team until he can find new power. Nothing else of significance changes." Janus said simply.
"So what you're saying is, my existence doesn't matter?" Billy asked quietly.
"Yes. If you want to look at it that way." Janus said in a casual tone that seemed completely inappropriate.
"But if I don't go back, what happens to me?" Billy asked helplessly.
"That will be entirely up to you. Your fate has been magically altered. No future is written for you in any timeline but your own." Janus said as he looked Billy in the eyes.
"So, no matter what I choose, Jason gets to have love and a family... and I don't?" Billy asked in a small, wounded tone.
"Jason's future and fate are already assured. He and Kimberly will have two children, Duke and Collinetta. There is a common belief that all children are beautiful but Duke and Collinetta disprove that belief. They will be, by far, the most butt ugly and disobedient children of their generation. Jason will get fat and go bald from stress, and Kimberly will age horribly in a very short period of time." Janus said frankly.
After a moment to consider, Billy hesitantly said, "I can't believe how horrible this sounds of me. But it helps me to know that."
* * * * *
"I guess I'll be next." Bobby said as he walked to Billy's side, then asked, "What happens if I go back?"
"Oh, some complicated drama with that girl, Marie. You chase, she leads you on, you can't touch, and so on and so on. Until after a few years, she absorbs enough of Wolverine's power to permanently gain his healing factor. That essentially makes her ageless, she and Wolverine become a loving couple and live many hundred years together... happily ever after." Janus said, then quickly added, "Oh, and your friend John, will die."
"And if I don't go back?" Bobby asked hesitantly.
"Same thing, minus the drama and John lives and returns to the Xmen because he feels guilty about your aparant death." Janus said, beginning to sound bored.
"Not much of a choice." Bobby said frankly.
Billy cautiously put a hand on Bobby's shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze.
Bobby slowly turned and gave Billy a weak smile of gratitude for the show of support.
Janus gave an unconcerned shrug, then turned to face Willow, Tara and Xander.
* * * * *
"You three have sealed fates. You have to go back. End of story." Janus said firmly.
"Hey, that's no fair. They get to choose." Xander said in a whiny tone.
"Tough tittie." Janus said, then turned to look at Yugi and Yami.
* * * * *
"I suppose you have a choice for me as well." Yami said calmly.
"No Pharaoh. The destiny that was set out before you is no longer possible. You were destined to face Yugi in battle and be defeated by him, then your spirit would have moved to the afterlife and Millennium magic would have been lost forever." Janus said carefully.
"And now?" Yami asked cautiously as he absently put an arm around Yugi, pulling him into a half-hug of comfort.
"You will return to the time and place when Millennium magic was used to break the rules of the shadow games. That signaled the end of the millennium and fractured destiny. It was the trigger for everything that followed. You will return, and cast judgement on the holders of the Millennium items." Janus said seriously.
"What about me?" Yugi asked in a small voice from Yami's side.
"You help him." Janus said with a gentle smile at the younger boy.
Yami slowly nodded, then glanced to his other side and asked, "What of them, would they be allowed to come with me?"
"Yes. If they choose to do so." Janus said consideringly.
Billy and Bobby shared a look, then Bobby finally said, "Sure, why not?"
"It appears that I have no other obligations." Billy said in a desperate, ironic chuckle.
* * * * *
Janus relocated the group to a large room with a countless number of archways that seemed to lead to nowhere.
"We cannot delay." Janus said as he gestured to one of the arches and a mist started to form.
"Guys, I'm sorry about dragging you all here." Willow said in front of the swirling vortex.
"You heard Janus, you didn't cause this Willow, you were just part of the mechanism to repair something that went wrong. Now you three need to go and fulfill your destinies." Yami said, trying to keep a smile in place for their benefit.
Xander slowly turned and said, "It was good getting to know you Yami. If you ever find yourself out-of-body and needing a place to stay..."
"...I'll look you up. Thank you Xander." Yami finished with a nod.
The rest of the group watched as Xander, Willow and Tara walked into the swirling mist and eventually out of sight.
* * * * *
"Is there anything we need to know about your world?" Bobby asked cautiously.
Before Yami or Yugi could answer, Billy asked, "Should we, perhaps, learn how to speak Japanese?"
"You do know how to speak Japanese." Janus said from behind them.
Bobby and Billy looked at Janus with question.
"Aphrodite already gave you all the languages that you could possibly need." Janus explained patiently.
"Then I suppose there's no putting off what must be done." Yami said as he looked at the swirling doorway with trepidation.
"Pharaoh. When you have done what needs to be done, please remember, you are still a god." Janus said seriously.
"I'll keep that in mind." Yami said as he puzzled over the cryptic words.
"And I'll remind him." Yugi said with a shy smile.
"Be well my young friend." Janus said as he placed one of his wretchedly thin hands on Yugi's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"Time." Yami said, then started to walk.
Bobby, Billy and Yugi walked side by side to follow.
* * * * *
"If you can't handle yourself in a duel, you deserve to lose." Seto said with disgust.
Melik played his 'Goblin Attack Force' card and wiped out the last of Yugi's life points.
Yugi, Yami, Billy and Bobby watched as Yugi dropped through a dark vortex in the floor.
"Yield the game to me, mind slave." Melik said to Seto with delight.
Yami leaned down slightly and whispered, "You hold the Millennium magic that was once confined to the puzzle. You can end this."
Yugi's mind raced over what he could possibly do, then he remembered his first ever duel with Seto Kaiba and what Yami had done to release Seto from the darkness that controlled him.
"Mind crush." Yugi said as the Egyptian 'third eye' symbol appeared on his forehead.
Seto stared at Yugi uncomprehendingly for a moment, then clutched his head as if in severe pain.
"Well done, Aibou." Yami said proudly, feeling that they had somehow come full circle.
Before he could take the time to reflect further on that, Yami noticed Melik and Bakura's looks of shock and said, "You can't win a shadow game by stealing the will of your opponent."
Melik and Bakura looked from Yugi to Yami with surprise, trying to understand what had just happened.
"It looks like you guys just screwed up. Big time." Bobby said frankly.
"You can't be in here. This shadow game is sealed." Bakura said as he looked around cautiously.
"The game is over tomb robber. It is time for judgement." Yami said, then in a lavender flash of light he relocated to the other side of the playing field and held the Millennium ring in his hands.
"Tomb Robber, your thievery ends here. By conspiring with Melik to use Millennium magic to cheat, you have invalidated this game. And in doing so, you have invalidated all shadow games. You have marked the end of the millennium and broken the seal that binds the magic. I stand now in judgement. You are to be cast into the card graveyard to live eternally as the new reaper of cards." Yami said in a firm, clear voice.
"No. You can't. Melik, stop him." Bakura pleaded.
"He has his own problems." Yami said, then took firm hold of the Millennium ring and continued, "Vile spirit. I cast you out!"
A vague, uncomprehending look filled Bakura's eyes, then he fell to the ground.
Yugi ran to Bakura's side to be sure that his timid, sometimes friend, wasn't hurt and was resting in a comfortable position.
"Melik Ishtar, your family was charged with protecting the Millennium items from those who would try to use their power unwisely. You have used the power of the Millennium rod to enslave the souls of others for your own enrichment." Yami said coldly.
"You have been corrupted and I judge that you are well past the possibility for any sort of redemption." Yami said sadly.
Melik stood, frozen with fear as Yami took the Millennium rod out of his hand.
"Melik Ishtar, you have caused so much pain and suffering in your quest for power. I condemn you to eternal torment in the underworld." Yami said, feeling no joy in the words.
"You can't..." Melik tried to say before he disappeared into a swirling red vortex in the floor.
"It would appear that he can." Billy said frankly.
"Would you guys mind taking care of Seto and his brother?" Yami asked hopefully as he handed the Millennium rod and ring to Yugi.
"Where is his brother?" Bobby asked as he looked around curiously, just noticing their surroundings.
"There." Yami said as he pointed to a vague outline embedded in the wall of force that contained them.
"How do I?..." Bobby asked as he slowly walked to the frozen boy.
"Just get ready to catch him." Yami said, then looked at Yugi and asked, "Do you want to do it, Aibou?"
"Yeah." Yugi said timidly, then started looking through his cards.
"De-spell." Yugi said firmly as he held out the card.
The faint image of a lock and key appeared before Yugi, then as the key turned, the walls of force surrounding them began to melt away.
"I've got him." Bobby said as he caught the young boy.
"We have other Millennium items to collect, and I have other judgements to make. But I think I will bring the next item holder to us." Yami said, then pointed to a spot on the ground right in front of him.
* * * * *
The beautiful woman looked at Yami with surprise for a moment, then, without a word, took the necklace from around her neck and held it out to Yami as she went down on one knee.
"Isis Ishtar, your family was charged with the protection of the millennium items. You have used the power of the Millennium torc well and sought to fulfill your vow. I am pleased." Yami said gently.
"Thank you Pharaoh Tutmariahmihn." Isis said reverently.
"In the coming days, as it becomes publically known that I have returned, I am going to need a high priestess to teach my new followers about the old ways. Would you be interested?" Yami asked with a gentle smile.
"It would be a great honor and privilege, my Pharaoh." Isis said as she kept her eyes averted.
"Good. Then arise Isis Ishtar, high priestess of the Pharaoh Tutmariahmihn. Get your affairs in order, then join me in Domino City. There will be much to do." Yami said with a full smile.
"I knew the time was near. I will return in a matter of days." Isis said, then rushed away.
"Are these guys going to be okay?" Bobby asked quietly as he held the young boy, Mokuba, in his arms.
"Yes. They just need to sleep off the mind-slave effect of the Millennium rod." Yami said, then continued, "But it would be best if you moved Mokuba to be beside his brother before they awaken. They are completely devoted to each other."
Bobby nodded that he understood, then gently carried Mokuba so he could wake up beside Seto.
"Remain here. There are other items to retrieve and other carriers to judge. I will return shortly." Yami said seriously.
Bobby and Billy both nodded, then turned their attention back to the sleeping brothers.
"Can I... I mean may I go with you?" Yugi asked hopefully.
"Yes Aibou. I would feel incomplete without you." Yami said, then in a flash of lavender light, they were gone.
* * * * *
"I thought we got all the Millennium items. Where are we now?" Yugi asked in a whisper as he looked around the endless darkness.
Yami produced a ball of light in the palm of his hand, then held it out in front of them.
Yugi followed the movement, then saw that they were standing beside a huge stone door.
"Help me Aibou." Yami whispered, then placed the Millennium eye into an indentation in the stone table before them.
When Yugi understood what Yami was doing, he took the Millennium rod that he had been carrying and fitted it into it's proper place.
They placed each of the items into the indentations until Yugi was left holding the Millennium puzzle.
"Once we do this Aibou, it cannot be undone." Yami said as he put his hand over Yugi's.
"What will it do?" Yugi asked cautiously.
Yami looked away as he said, "I've come to know of your world. Since you've never lived in a world with gods, you may not understand just how chaotic it is here. You have the rich exploiting the poor. Nations are going to war to make their corporate masters rich. Terrorism... Left as it is, I can see nothing but turmoil for your people."
Yugi reluctantly nodded that he understood what Yami was saying.
"If we do this, it will change everything." Yami said frankly.
Yugi guided Yami to put the puzzle into place. They pressed on the puzzle with their joined hands until it was embedded into it's place in the stone table.
A loud scraping sound started, then the stone doors began to open.
Light spilled into the room, light that was too bright to see past.
A form stepped out of the light and it took a few minutes for them to see that it was a man, a monstrously huge man.
"Tutmariahmihn, we knew that you would one day return." the man said gently.
Yugi looked at the man curiously. He felt like he knew him, but also knew that they had never met before.
"You may call me Amun-Ra." the god said in a joyful and benevolent tone.
"Thank you. I'm Yugi."
"Now that you have come and opened the vault. The twilight of the gods is over. Now we can begin the new day of the gods." Amun-Ra said as he stretched and flexed his glorious power in an aura that wrapped all around him and filled the room.
"This was what you planned all along." Yugi said speculatively.
Amun-Ra looked at Yugi curiously for a moment, then smiled and said, "Yes young one. The Pharaoh was suspended between life and death so that he could survive the twilight outside the protection of the seal. We were depending on him to release us."
"What of the Greek gods?" Yugi asked hesitantly.
"If they took my warning, then perhaps they survived and are just waiting to be released as well." A new voice said.
Yugi and Yami watched as Sobek-Ra stepped out of the massive form of Amun-Ra.
"Sobek-Ra. It's good to see you." Yami said with uncharacteristic happiness.
"Yes. It is good to see you as well, but you should be going if you want to release our Greek counterparts so they can share in this glorious day." Sobek-Ra said in a voice of ultimate peace and tranquility.
"Yeah. Let's go Yami." Yugi said with a note of urgency.
"Yes Aibou. We will seek out the Greek gods, but then we must return to Domino City. Billy and Bobby don't know anyone there." Yami said carefully.
"Oh yeah. We'd better hurry back to them." Yugi said quickly.
"Come Aibou." Yami said as he put out his hand.
Yugi took the offered hand and they vanished in a burst of lavender light.
* * * * *
"Are you sure?" Yugi asked in a whisper as they walked through a long, deserted cave.
"Yes Aibou, I can sense immense power coming from just ahead. It must be the Greek twilight chamber." Yami said then smiled when he turned the corner.
"What the?..." Yugi said as he stared at the sleeping figure in front of them.
"That is just SO Greek." Yami said with a chuckle.
At Yugi's inquiring look, Yami continued, "They come up with such creative ways to do the simplest things. Rather than just creating a door with a seal, they leave a massive stone giant asleep in front of the entrance."
"What do you want to do about him?" Yugi asked cautiously.
"I think you have the answer to that." Yami said honestly.
Yugi thought for a moment, then smiled as he realized what Yami meant.
After ruffling through his cards, Yugi found the one he wanted and triumphantly said, "Magical Hats."
Yami laughed aloud as three gigantic hats appeared before them, one of them covering the sleeping stone giant.
"Are you sure you're not part Greek, Aibou?" Yami asked as Yugi ran to the hat that was blocking the door.
"You could think of an easier way?" Yugi asked as he struggled to tip over the massive hat.
"Three or four, actually. But as long as it works..." Yami said, then broke into a full smile as Yugi finally managed to move the hat out of the way to reveal the entrance to a great cavern.
Before either of them could enter, a strong voice called out, "Who goes there?"
Yugi and Yami shared a look of recognition, then Yugi carefully called, "Lord Ares?"
"No. That's who I am. Who are you?" Ares called forcefully.
"Yugi Mutou and the Pharaoh Tutmariahmihn." Yami called out indulgently.
"It is." A quieter voice whispered, then the sound of scurrying feet could be heard.
"Ooof." sounded, as whoever was running, had obviously fallen.
"Two thousand years and you still can't manage to put one foot in front of the other." Ares said with exasperation as he finally stepped out of the cavern.
"It really is you." Ares said, then looked around the outside of the cave.
"Ares? Is it safe?" A timid voice called.
"Yes. It's them." Ares called over his shoulder.
Joxer ran over and hugged Yami happily, then Yugi.
"I'm glad to see that you're alright." Yugi said with a chuckle from the hug.
"Is it over?" Joxer asked hopefully.
"Yes." Yami said with a smile, "The twilight of the gods is over. You've survived."
"Thank you! Thank you!" Joxer screamed into the great cavern, then ran to Ares and gave him a joyful kiss... and it was obvious that it wasn't their first.
The sound of a snort, then a low rhythmic snore came from under a large hat beside them.
"We need to be going, just let everyone know that it's over. The Egyptian gods are released as well." Yami said seriously.
Joxer finally released Ares, who was blushing, then walked up to Yami and said, "Thank you for my life."
"Yes. And thank you as well." Yami said, then put his hand out to Yugi.
As Yugi took his hand, a lavender flash of light erupted around them.
* * * * *
"I was beginning to get worried about you two." Bobby said as he looked at Yami and Yugi with concern.
"We just had a few extra stops to make. How are they doing?" Yami asked as he knelt beside Seto.
"That Bakura guy woke up and ran off a few minutes ago. I thought this guy was about to wake up, but then he didn't. Any minute now I think." Bobby said frankly.
"They both appear to have had sufficient rest. I would guess from their more agitated sleep, that they should awaken momentarily." Billy said professionally.
"That's what I just said." Bobby said with a chuckle.
Billy seemed to be replaying Bobby's words in his mind, then he slowly said, "Yes. You did."
"Five more minutes." Seto mumbled incoherently.
"Seto, it's time to wake up." Yami said gently as he placed his hand on Seto's shoulder.
Seto's eyes snapped open and he looked at Yami with challenge.
"The duel is over, both you and your brother are well." Yami said carefully.
Seto had a look of confusion, then he asked, "Was I dueling with you or against you?"
"Some of both, actually. But that's all over now." Yami said, then gripped Seto's shoulder as he helped him to sit up.
"What's wrong with Mokuba?" Seto asked in panic at the sight of his younger brother passed out on the floor beside him.
"He's sleeping, just like you were... you'll both be fine." Yami said assuringly.
Seto looked around at the strangers, then asked, "What happened?"
"Mind control. But you don't have to worry about that anymore. I will see to it that no mortals will ever have access to the Millennium items again. No more mind control, no more shadow games." Yami said firmly.
Seto looked curiously at Yami, not knowing what to believe.
"It's a new world Seto. Things are going to be different from here on." Yami said with a smile.
"A new world? That sounds like a challenge to me." Seto said as he came more awake.
"Yes. There will be many challenges in the coming days. But I think they'll be good ones." Yami said with a smile.
Seto blinked his stark blue eyes as he stared at Yami, then turned to look at his brother with concern.
"We'll leave you alone to wake Mokuba." Yami said as he slowly stood.
"I'm glad Mokuba is going to be alright." Yugi said quickly.
Seto seemed surprised by the sincere sentiment, but finally said, "Thank you. It's good to know that we have... friends... who'll look out for us when we need it."
"Always Seto. Always." Yami said, then motioned for Yugi to come with him.
* * * * *
As the group of four walked down the street toward the Turtle game shop, Billy finally asked, "What are we going to do here?"
"I've seen both of you fight and I was impressed. I thought that if you would be willing, you could move into my main temple as my personal guards, and advisors." Yami said frankly.
Bobby and Billy exchanged uncertain looks.
"Today is the beginning of a new age. An age of gods. Change, even good change, is frightening. Just think about the position you'll be in to help people who really need it." Yami said seriously.
Bobby slowly nodded while Billy seemed to be considering.
"There's no need to worry about it tonight. Right now just focus on adjusting to this new world. I know it took a while for me to get used to it." Yami said with a fond smile of remembrance.
"What about me?" Yugi asked Yami hopefully.
"What about you?" Yami asked in return as they continued to walk the familiar route to the game shop where Yugi's grandfather lived.
"What is my job going to be?" Yugi asked hopefully.
"You will be my King of Games." Yami said gently.
"No. Seriously. We've been together for so long..." Yugi trailed off nervously, then finally summoned the courage to continue, "Are we going to be together now?"
Yami realized just how serious Yugi was with his question and exactly what he was asking.
In his most gentle voice, Yami responded, "I love you Aibou. You are my Hikari as I am your Yami... but our feelings for each other have never been the passion of lovers. It was the pure love of closest friends."
"But... but... when we shared my body... I know you have those kinds of feelings." Yugi choked out past his tears.
"Yes Aibou. But I have those feelings for only one person. I believe it is a challenge worthy of a god."
Yugi looked up at Yami with his large violet eyes, filled with unshed tears.
"You'll see Aibou, in time I'll have my Seto, and you'll have..." Yami trailed off, then pointed at someone approaching.
Yugi quickly wiped his eyes and said, "Hey Joey."
"What's up Yug?"
What a sweet wonderful chapter and conclusion. It looks as if things are going to work out very well for just about everyone.
I must say that once again MultiMapper's wonderful touch has given us a wonderful story. I had never found any of the Japanese stories understandable to me before. Multimapper has opened my eyes to a whole new world of stories that I will now have to look into. Obviously this story crossed over into several different realms. I have always been a fan of the XMen universe, and I liked the Xena universe as well, but much of the other worlds shown in this story were totally new to me. As is always the case with MultiMapper's writing, I fell head over heels and I am totally hooked. Thank you MM for another find chapter of another fine story.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher